When Annet gave birth to Augustine and his twin brother, she was delighted. But it was hard work.
“There was a lot to do. I guess that’s why I only realised after three or four months that something was different with Augustine. He didn’t react in the same way his brother did. Sometimes he didn’t react at all. Only when I would shine the light of a torch directly into his eyes… That’s when I saw those tiny white spots in his pupils …”
The villagers advised Augustine's mother to take him to an eye clinic to have his eyes operated on. “But I didn’t even have the money for transport to the clinic”.
Annet’s in-laws saw Augustine as “problematic” because of his disability. Augustine and his mother Annet now live with her uncle. Annet works in his garden or shop, or sometimes earns a bit extra working in her neighbour' gardens.
Every day when his cousins go to school, Augustine, now six, wishes every day that he could join his cousins at school, and so does Annet. But the school does not know how to cope with children who can’t see.
“He cannot even see what the teachers write on the blackboard. And the teachers don’t know what to do with children like Augustine. He would get lost on his way anyway.”
So mostly Augustine sits alone in the sand and plays with bottle caps. Or he listens to his great-grandmother’s radio that hangs down from a pole in front of the house.
Augustine loves the radio and his wishes for his future are simple enough: “I would like to see and go to school and later I want to become a radio reporter.”
Annet has lost hope that things will ever change. “I wish Augustine could see like other children, that he was not different from the others anymore, can do all activities independently and can go to school… But I lost hope a long time ago”.
A new start
It was through the radio that Augustine loved that Annet first learned that help was possible. She heard about an outreach clinic run by a CBM partner close by for people with disabilities, and that there would be free treatment.
He was referred to hospital for treatment, funded by CBM supporters. Specialists diagnosed cataracts and operated to remove them.
Because Augustine had been blind from birth, it was not possible to fully restore his sight. But with glasses and maybe a magnifying device his sight will improve significantly.
A few weeks after surgery Mama Annett had already registered her son for pre-school. “He walks to school independently, joins in with the activities there and comes back alone around midday. I can work in my shop and don’t need to worry about him anymore.”
Augustine’s outreach worker, funded by CBM, supported Annet through the process. Outreach workers are also trained to work with teachers to make sure they understand how best to help Augustine learn. So he sits in the front row and has a seat with plenty of light, to help him see the blackboard.
"Thank you so much for all that you have done for my son. He can see now and can go to school. I'm so happy! And I would never have had the money for the eye surgery. So, please continue your work and help other children in need, too. God bless you!"